Eutelsat and Arabsat still squabbling
Eutelsat and Qatari partner Es’HailSat have contracted with Arianespace to launch their joint project on an Ariane 5 rocket into orbit around the middle of next year. The only problem with the scheme is that the satellite is intended to go to 25.5 degrees East, and very close to Arabsat’s ‘hot spot’ at 26 degrees East.
The dilemma for Eutelsat is that Arabsat (owned by a group of Arab nations including Saudi Arabia) and Iran claim pre-existing orbital rights to the position.
A number of meetings took place in Dubai ten days ago between Michel de Rosen, CEO at Eutelsat and senior Arabsat officials in an attempt to mediate a solution, but no agreement was reached.
Iran is also involved in the dispute, insofar as it claims that its Zohreh-2 satellite is already in position and utilising many of the frequencies wanted by Eutelsat. Zohreh-2 doesn’t physically exist, but its frequencies are incorporated into an Arabsat satellite.
The hard facts are that two satellites cannot occupy the same orbital slot and frequencies. An agreement is needed, probably by a compromise where each party agrees to limit the number of transponders they will use.